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Need to Know: The top five Redskins free agents in 2015

Need to Know: The top five Redskins free agents in 2015

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 19, 19 days before the NFL draft.

Nickel coverage

(Note: I’m going to be out of action for a few days here. I’m bringing back a few of the most popular Nickel Coverage posts from the last few months to give you a chance to rehash them. Back on Monday.)

Yes, it’s only 2014 but the way the NFL salary cap works you have to look into the future when deciding who to sign and how much to pay them. You also acquire players one year with an eye on who might be leaving the next year. Here are the Redskins’ top five free agents for 2015:

LB Brian Orakpo—After his one-year franchise tag he will be looking for a long-term contract. But the Redskins will have the option of tagging him again so they hold the upper hand (although the tag salary will be over $13 million).

LB Ryan Kerrigan—This is only a technicality, really. His rookie contract will be up but since he was a first-round draft pick the Redskins will have an option year they can exercise. It is almost certain that Kerrigan will be back for a salary of about $4-$5 million.

DE Jarvis Jenkins—Injury and a suspension have plagued Jenkins’ career. The 2011 second-round pick has not been anything special. If he plays like he has he’s probably someone the Redskins would like to have back but not a must-sign by any means.

WR Leonard Hankerson—His career has been somewhat similar to Jenkins’ although he hasn’t been suspended and his high moments have been a little bit higher. Still, he has yet to produce with any consistency and barring a major breakout he won’t be a priority signing a year from now.

RB Roy Helu Jr.—We will see how Helu fits into Jay Gruden’s offense. If he can find a role, he is the kind of guy the team would like to have back on a fairly inexpensive contract.

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Timeline

—It’s been 111 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 141 days until they play another one.

Days until: First veteran minicamp 10; NFL Draft 19; Training camp starts 95

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Cousins dismisses notion of having the Eagles' number

Cousins dismisses notion of having the Eagles' number

Kirk Cousins has performed well against the Philadelphia Eagles. One quip I read from a Philly writer recently is that the notion that Jeffrey Lurie owns the Eagles is a myth; Cousins really owns the Eagles.

Perhaps it’s premature to say that. After all, Cousins has just four career starts against Philadelphia. But he has played well against the Redskins’ NFC East rivals, no question about it. In those four games he has completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,345 yards (336 yards/game) with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. Cousins has thrown for 7.7 yards per attempt with a passer rating of 101.3. The Redskins are 3-1 in those games.

Two games against the Eagles in 2015 helped define the season. In their first meeting in Week 4 at FedEx Field the Redskins trailed 20-16 when they got the ball at their own 10 with 6:05 left. Cousins engineered a 90-yard drive, topping it off with a four-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garçon with 31 seconds left to win the game.

That win kept the Redskins from sliding to 1-3, a situation that would have put Cousins’ viability as the starting quarterback in doubt. But they survived and went into Philadelphia in Week 17 in position to clinch in the NFC East title. Cousins passed for 365 yards and four touchdowns as the Redskins rolled 38-24.

Earlier this year Cousins passed for 263 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. The pick was returned for a touchdown, a score that tied the game at 14-14. But Cousins led the team to a touchdown and a field goal on the two subsequent drives and the Redskins held on for a 27-20 win.

As you would expect, Cousins is having nothing of any talk of his success against the Redskins’ upcoming opponent. He tried to make the case that it’s just a coincidence.

“I think every game is its own entity and I don’t know that the sample size is large enough really to say there’s a correlation,” he said of his success against the Eagles. “I just think that each game you see what can happen and you never know. So I think there’s starting to become a familiarity from both sides. I think they’re starting to figure me out and I’m starting to learn more about them as individual players. So that always counts for something as you get more familiar and that will be a challenge as they start to learn my play better and better.”

Whether it’s ownership or just happenstance, the Redskins hope that Cousins can extend his hot streak against the Eagles at least one more game on Sunday.

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Gruden on contracts for Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson: That time will come

Gruden on contracts for Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson: That time will come

Jay Gruden knows both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon are in the final year of their contracts - but the coach isn't worried about that. For now. 

"I think when the season is over we start talking about that," Gruden said on Wednesday.

The plan called for rookie first-round pick Josh Doctson to simplify the Redskins' front office pending decisions on Garçon and Jackson, but that hasn't worked out. Doctson missed the bulk of his rookie year with an Achilles injury, and while there was some slim hope Doctson might be able to come back in the late stages of the 2016 season, that door has closed.

The Redskins placed Doctson on the injured reserve list in October, and earlier this week designated center Kory Lichtensteiger as the player to come back from the IR. That move ends Doctson's season.

"It is disappointing for all of us," Gruden said of shutting Doctson down. "You know, we had high hopes for him coming out of TCU and the talent that he has and he’s disappointed but these things happen."

The coach allowed that the team didn't get to see much out of Doctson - who played just two games - and that won't help in the evaluations for the long-term need at wideout.

"That does make it tougher but we’re not worried about that. I think right now it’s all about trying to get the guys that we have to play well and play hard and get us to where we want to go. When the season is over, we’ll address all the free agents, the receivers and all of them in general, so that time will come," the coach said.

On the season, Garçon has 59 catches for 714 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games. Jackson has missed one game but has comparable stats with 644 receiving yards and three TDs on only 39 catches.

Both receivers, Garçon and Jackson play the position much different. Jackson is a vertical speed threat while Garçon is a much more physical wideout. At various times, Gruden has spoken very highly of both players, and for good reason. 

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